galaxor nebulon (galaxor) wrote,
galaxor nebulon
galaxor

Inheritance after 100 year time warp

I had a dream which took place somewhere in New England. A lady was going to her father's funeral. The elder brother stood to inherit the big estate, including a fancy house and the surrounding lands which had tenant farmers. This was around 1910.

However, she had evidence that the brother had actually murdered the father, so she would inherit instead. (I looked this up; apparently, this is real. It's called the "Slayer Rule").

However, on the way to the funeral, she accidentally went through a time warp and ended up in modern times. In the intervening ~100 years, the brother had died, obviously. His children had inherited, and so forth. The farmland surrounding the estate house had been sold off and suburbs had been built there. The estate house was still in the family.

She still had the evidence that her brother had murdered her father. The question posed by my dream is: Would that evidence be of any use to her? Could she get her hands on any of what would have been her inheritance?

Update: I brought this question to James Daily of Law and the Multiverse. Here is his reply:


Ryan,
That's....a new one.

The short answer is that she's probably out of luck.  There's the practical
matter of getting a court to believe her identity and the evidence, but let's
assume that all goes fine.  The first big problem is the way slayer statutes are
worded.  Consider Connecticut's (since we're talking about New England):

"A person finally adjudged guilty either as the principal or accessory, of any
crime under Section 53a-54a ... shall not inherit or receive any part of the
estate of the deceased"

Since the brother is dead, he cannot be put on trial and thus cannot be found
guilty of having murdered the father.  Mere evidence offered in probate court is
not enough to trigger the statute.

(It should be noted that the court could judge this under the law as it existed
c.1910, before many slayer statutes were enacted, but the pre-statutory common
law principle was that felons could not benefit from their felonious acts, which
presupposes that they have been convicted of a felony.  See, e.g., Slocum v.
Metropolitan Life Ins. Co., 245 Mass. 565, 567 (1923).  So we get the same
result either way.)

But even supposing there was a loophole in the slayer statute or that the court
were willing to invoke some broader principle of equity (especially under the
circumstances), there's the problem of reopening a probate case.  Courts are
generally loathe to reopen an estate, doubly so after so many years have passed
and the assets have been distributed many times over.

Ultimately she's probably out of luck on the inheritance.  If she played her
cards right she could probably make a fortune from her autobiography, though. 
Genetic and radiological testing would pretty straightforwardly establish that
she was indeed who she says she was and from the pre-atomic past, since her
teeth and bones would lack the tell-tale radioisotopes of everyone born after
the era of atomic testing.

-James
Tags: dream
  • Post a new comment

    Error

    default userpic
  • 0 comments